The Connectivity jargon buster

For many event organisers, the rise of Wi-Fi from a simple tick-box solution to a more complicated and business-critical service probably came as something of a surprise.

Fact is, the speed at which Wi-Fi has become absolutely crucial to our businesses, to our social life, to our very existence, has probably taken everyone by surprise.  As a result, you may not have had a chance to catch up on the whole ecosystem of  vocabulary that has sprung up around it – not only do you need to organise the right kind of connectivity, but you have to translate it all first.

So here’s our jargon-buster’s guide to network speak so that you can tell your VOIP from your adsl and your WAN from your LAN.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) -the type of internet connection many of us have at home, the ‘Asymmetric’ means that the download speed is different (normally higher) than the upload.

SDSL (Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line) – same download speed as upload speed.

Ethernet – This officially denotes a method of connecting a number of computers or network devices to form a local area network (LAN) and control the passing of information between them, but is also commonly used when talking about connectivity.

WAN (WideArea Network) – in its broadest use this can mean ‘the internet’, but it also means a network that covers a large area – for example a city.

LAN (Local Area Network) –  This describes smaller networks, normally like a home or office or venue. The other ports on your home router are the LAN ports.

VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) – This is the name for the protocol behind things like Skype. Phone calls are sent over the internet and only join back onto the normal phone network closer to the place that is being called, making them much cheaper than standard calls.

Router – A device that all of us have at home. Many, though not all, also provide yourWi-Fi network. A router will issue your laptop, tablet or phone with an IP address, telling the router where to send information.

Switch – A switch will enable multiple devices to connect to a network, and only needsone cable to connect it to the network. The major difference between a switch and a router is that a switch cannot issue an IP address, which means that your device can’t be found on a network, or get access to the internet as there is no ‘address’ to send the data to.

Wireless Access Point (AP) – This is like a switch in that it enables many devices tojoin to a network – in this case wirelessly, rather than via a cable, but again, it will not issue IP addresses. They  output a stronger wireless signal than a router would. Most venues will have AP’s distributed throughout their spaces to ensure good WiFi coverage.

IP Address (Internet Protocol address) – This is the number that is issued to your device allowing information to be routed to and from your device. ‘Public’ IP Addresses  are IP addresses that can be accessed from the internet. Private IP addresses are issued by your router, and cannot be ‘seen’ from the internet

CAT5e – The most commonly used network cable- these are terminated in RJ45 connectors.

Satellite solutions – Satellite broadband is a great option for temporary internet, but there is a higher latency (time taken for data to travel between two points) than on terrestrial connections meaning some VOIP phones or VPN’s won’t work.

VPN (Virtual Private Network) – A means of creating a secure link between two remote devices or locations. Most of us will use a VPN to access our work servers or email out of the office. They rely on a consistent connection.

Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor

ConferenceNews Guest Author

Conference News hosts great guests on its pages. Our Blog section is the collection of the best opinions in the UK and international events industry.

ConferenceNews Guest Author


ConferenceNews Guest Author

Conference News hosts great guests on its pages. Our Blog section is the collection of the best opinions in the UK and international events industry.

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